What a difference between the first start of the season for Oakland Athletics starter Sean Manaea.
He looked good from the start. Houston didn’t get many opportunities with runners on base and the only run scored on a defensive mistake by the A’s. Kyle Tucker got played to pull leaving no one to cover second. Manaea induced a hard hit ground ball that in a normal situation results in a double play.
Unfortunately with no one at second base the A’s weren’t able to turn the double play and the run scored.
Offensively Oakland missed their chance to chase Houston Astros started Lance McCullers Jr out of the game. Jed Lowrie hit a solo home run. After Matt Olson grounded out, Matt Chapman walked, Stephen Piscotty reached on an error by Carlos Correa who made a nice play, yet instead of getting the sure out at second he tried for the spectacular play and his throw to second went wide. Seth Brown then was unintentionally walked to load the bases.
Elvis Andrus hit the ball hard to the right side yet it was right at Yuli Gurriel who got the force out at home. Backup catcher Aramis Garia struck out to end the threat.
Manaea ended up throwing six solid innings. Allowing the one run while striking out four and walking one. He did get the no decision still it was the best start from an A’s starter so far in 2021.
The A’s offense wasn’t able to solve Astros reliever Bryan Abreu until his third inning of work. When Mark Canha got on with a leadoff single. Ramon Laureano then struck out on a 2-2 pitch that wasn’t even close.
Houston manager Dusty Baker went to the bullpen and brought in left-handed reliever Blake Taylor to face Lowrie.
Taylor then fell behind 3-0 and after Lowrie took a strike he then singled to left field. This brought up Olson with runners on first and second and he fell behind in the count 0-2 quickly, he took a tough pitch for ball one and then unloaded on a hanging slider to give the A’s a 4-1 lead. Chapman then popped out to shallow right field, Piscotty walked, and Brown struck out to end the inning.
With the A’s up three it became the biggest lead in a game of the 2021 season.
Bob Melvin countered with Lou Trivino in the bottom of the eighth who got the middle of the Astros order. He got Alex Bregman to fly out, Alvarez to strikeout for the fourth time of the game, Gurriel walked and Correa struck out.
The A’s offense wasn’t done in the ninth. As Andrus finally got the ball out of the infield, singling to left field. Garcia bunted him to second before Canha worked the count full. It also appeared that Joe Smith and Martin Maldonado weren’t on the same page and the result a two-run home run given up. This increased Oakland’s lead to five.
Even though the game was no longer a save situation Jake Diekman came in for the bottom of the ninth. He unfortunately gave up a lead off walk to Tucker, Myles Straw singled. The insurance runs from Canha’s home run no were big.
Fortunately for Diekman he got to face Maldonado who hasn’t hit well. He ended up hitting a sacrifice fly to get Tucker to third. Jose Altuve got a chance with runners on first and a third and he hit a knuckler to Laureano in center field who made a tough catch to get the second out. It resulted in another sacrifice fly this time scoring Tucker.
Michael Brantley the ended the game with a fly out to Laureano.